September 24, 2012
Resident Fantasy Genius
Low-Cost Saves for Your Keeper League
For the past five years, as the season winds down, I’ve made it a habit of discussing one of my favorite keeper league strategies: stashing potential closers. This, of course, isn’t viable in every single keeper league based on format, depth, and rule quirks, but in leagues where it is, it can be a powerful way of accruing cheap value for your 2013 squad before the 2012 season even ends.
All keeper leagues are different, but if you are in one where your leaguemates make a habit of keeping top closers, this strategy will be especially good for you. In these leagues, when auction day or draft day rolls around, the number of closers will be limited. Those who haven't kept a top closer will be bidding against each other for the leftovers, the second-tier closers. By default, their prices will rise, quite possibly above their raw value. This can trickle down the list of closers until Matt Capps is being auctioned for some crazy amount, like $18.
So how do you avoid this? Do you simply punt saves? Do you overpay for a closer? Hopefully closers won’t see such heavily inflation and you won’t be pressed to make such a decision. But the intelligent owner will prepare, read the market come draft day, and decide on a course of action.
If you're out of the running this year, the stats you accrue over the remainder of 2012 make no difference to you. You shouldn't have your keepers set in stone yet, although you definitely should have a good idea who they will be. You could, theoretically, drop every player you don't intend to keep, tank, and it wouldn't make an ounce of difference. Of course, I don't advocate this; this type of behavior skews league results, and it certainly would anger the rest of your league if you drop a $45 Miguel Cabrera because you decide he's too expensive to keep. It might even get you kicked out before you make your run for the title in 2013.
Knowing this, feel free to drop any overpriced, old, or otherwise unkeepable players (within reason) and pick up some that fall into the next category: middle relievers with the inside track for a closing job. The owners in your league who are in it for this year might be ignoring these guys since they can't afford to waste active (or even bench) roster spots. However, since you are concerned with next year, take the inside track while you can. Any advantage you can get is one worth pursuing, and there are several to be gained this time of year while many of your opponents don't have the flexibility to make the types of moves you can if you're out of the race.